Studies are showing that half of Americans feel lonely and isolated. Lonely people are 50% more likely to die prematurely than those with healthy social connections. Loneliness contributes to poor health and emotional well-being. Being alone is different than being lonely.
I see it in the clients I work with who are adamant they want to age-in-place. They lose a spouse, their friends move away or they lose their ability to safely drive and don’t want to use a cab to get around. Often, it’s just the fear or inability to be able to do something new. They insist they are not social people – I get it. I am a proud introvert and savor those blocks of time when I can recharge my batteries in solitude.
However, my clients that insist they are fine alone at home with no activities start to have more health issues and I see a general decline in their cognitive abilities as we sit down to pay bills or discuss a home maintenance project.
You will find more on this topic in this Inc. article: Loneliness Is as Lethal As Smoking 15 Cigarettes Per Day. Here’s What You Can Do About It
If you are caring for a loved one at home, see if you can find a local adult day care center where they can meet others and have an opportunity to try something new in a safe environment. If they are physically mobile, maybe you can find a local walking group they can join for both social and physical engagement.
My husband and I are trying out pickleball, and I am always on the hunt for a good seminar on practical topics. Those give us the opportunity to make new connections and stay socially engaged in our community.
I continue to enjoy tennis which wonderfully combines exercise with the social engagement. It has expanded my local network of friends and acquaintances threefold. I hope by having the habit of using a calendar and by being on the hunt for ways to engage new ideas with my husband and my own, I will ensure that I continue to nurture my need to be socially connected. Practiced.